5 things to know 14 days before the midterms

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The election is coming! The election is coming!Two weeks from today, the country will head to the pol...

Posted: Oct. 24, 2018 10:55 AM

The election is coming! The election is coming!

Two weeks from today, the country will head to the polls and offer us the first nationwide report card -- not just on President Donald Trump, but also the Republican and Democratic parties.

So at this point, what do we know? And what do we know we don't know?  Here's my attempt to answer both of the questions.

1. History is on the side of Democrats. Since the Civil War, there have only been three midterm elections in which the president's party didn't lose seats in the House. THREE! Could this be the fourth? Sure. But it's not the likeliest outcome -- especially when you consider Trump's approval rating is in the mid-40s.  Historically, that means losses of 30+ seats for the president's party.

2. Women are energized. And not for Trump. In the 69 battleground House districts identified by The Washington Post, women are going for the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate by 13 points. That's especially meaningful when you consider that of the 69 districts, 48 of them were carried by Trump in the 2016 election.

3. The playing field is (almost) all in GOP territory. Of the 28 seats CNN rates as "toss ups," 26 of them are held by Republicans. Of the 15 seats rated as "lean Democratic," 13 of them are GOP-held. Of the 18 seats CNN ranks as "lean Republican," all 18 are held by Republicans. There are massive swaths of GOP vulnerability and almost no corresponding Democratic problem seats.

4. The GOP base got an energy bump from Kavanaugh. There's no question that the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which Trump effectively cast to his supporters as an attempted destruction of a good man by the liberal left, energized a previously "meh" base. What is up for debate is whether that surge will last -- both because a) it's in the rearview mirror and b) conservatives got what they want (Kavanaugh is on the court).

5. Democrats are drowning Republicans in ads. Democrats' fundraising edge throughout the election cycle has translated into a MAJOR TV ad edge in the closing weeks of the campaign. According to the amazing Wesleyan Media Project, Democrats sponsored 208,000 ads in House races versus 128,000 from pro-Republican candidates and organizations between September 15 and October 18. In that same period, Democrats aired 171,000 ads in Senate contests as compared to 118,000 by GOPers. And Kantar Media/CMAG's assessment of more than 100 of the most competitive House and Senate contests showed that Democratic candidates have outspent Republicans about $256 million to $145 million on TV.

The Point: Add up what we know and leaven it with what we don't and, on balance, this is still looking like a good election for Democrats in the House. It's less clear what a favorable Democratic environment means for Senate Democrats given the fact that so many of the party's incumbents are trying to hold states that went strongly for Trump two years ago.  

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